The young and the restless

There is a restlessness about me. I want to do this or that, but can’t because I need to do this or that first. At this point in time — specifically 4:20 a.m., in our bed, my daughter sleeping beside me and smelling sweetly of soap and shampoo, me, myself and I waiting for sleep to come — I realize I am restless. Work. Chores. Priorities. Luxuries. Time. The last two especially seem to be joined at the hip, but each one ironically prevents much of the other from happening.

I am not talking about material luxuries, obviously; right now all I desire is the luxury of time. And the much-lamented lack of it.

Time to read and finish a book in one day, say, and to immediately start on the next one right away. I was pregnant, just waiting for my tummy to get big the last time that ever happened. Time to take an afternoon siesta guiltlessly. Time to indulge in every housewifely whim. Time to kill time (that is starting to sound like a real crime already, given the circumstances). Time to watch American Idol. And go on marathon DVD viewing. Time to miss Ridge in The Bold and The Beautiful. (Where is that show? It used to be on Star World every day at 3 p.m., with replays on the weekend, but it just disappeared. Pfft.)

Time to take my parents around Manila. I want time to submit to my daughter’s every command. “Mommy, let’s bake.” “Mommy, let’s watch Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly something…” (I forget the right title; it’s Wizards of Waverly Place, I think, but I’m not sure.) “Mommy, do you really have to go to rehearsals, to the acupuncturist, to taping?” I work only two days a week, sometimes three, but still… I feel guilty every time I have to be or go off somewhere when my little pink daughter, like milk and cookies in her innocence, just forever wants me beside her. She is growing up fast. I know the time will come when she will not exactly want to spend every waking moment with her daddy and me the way she does now.

I need order in the house. Maybe that is why I am restless. The time I am home I constantly feel the need to putter around; I am always tidying up here and there. There is just so much to do. In my mind I know what I have to do. But, heaven help me, the last gift has just been bowed, greeting cards we have received are still in my mail tray, a lot of them unopened. My birthday and Christmas presents are still wrapped, I think already impatiently waiting for me to find them under our Christmas trees (good heavens, it is almost Chinese New Year, after all!). That makes for a joyful thought. But still. The house: so many things to put away — the Christmas trees and decor, clothes, clothes and more clothes, toys. Where do I even begin? When?

I feel disjointed. I need to do this, but that seems more important right now. I am running on hope, a plan, a self-imposed deadline. Except that it is hardly carried out efficiently, as I am constantly juggling many things simultaneously and I find that I have to drop some and jump on to something else at a moment’s notice. I just said it: disjointed. It’s not always a peaceful feeling.

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Very often I feel like a headless chicken. I should be doing everything leisurely, really, because I seriously enjoy keeping house. Like the superwoman housewives of old. Like Martha Stewart, maybe, in her many homes and Ina Garten in her kitchen. I like the look and gracefulness of order. But then again I am conveniently forgetting that they both probably have a team at their beck and call. I am my own one-woman team, so yes, okay, I guess it will just have to take a little longer to happen.

In my world, the things I want/need to do I just have to treat like a diet, a scrapbook I have to make, a diary. I must take it on bit by bit, piece by piece, if I must. I should not waste time thinking, being indecisive, always waiting for time as I want it to be — in long stretches, uninterrupted, fluid. I just have to take what I can, do with what I have, otherwise it will not happen for me. Baby steps, maybe, but still… steps moving forward. I just need to seize every chance, even if it is as simple as putting a little thing back in its proper place. If I start faithfully the rest of the universe should cooperate with me.

I know Juliana and my husband feel it is not important that the house is in tip-top shape. I know that will not be a measure of how much they will love and appreciate me. But it is important to me. That is how I show my love for them. That is my language.

In my immediate dreams, everything is as it should be and I can spend every free moment I have not furiously cleaning and organizing but instead, pursuing my many interests: learning to knit, crocheting, drawing with Juliana and enjoying a little child’s world, making perfectly good homemade jam and bread and cookies and cake, just basically polishing the raw edges of all that I still am not — a decent cook, someone with a green thumb, a truly organized housewife. When I find a place for everything and everything is in its place I can spend practically all my free time at home just enjoying the company of family and friends. Then my daughter will be happier for sure. Her favorite question now is “Mom, are you free today?” I want to be able to say yes to that more often, and really mean it. By tidying up when I am home with her she has told me in so many ways and in no uncertain terms that I am depriving her of quality time.

My mom was always there for us. She spent a lot of time with us growing up, reading us books every night, drawing for us, playing. We had yayas but mommy was on top of the situation. I do not want Juliana to grow up and remember me as always cleaning and moving around the house, tidying up. I always try to compensate largely at night. I read her storybook after storybook in bed, sometimes as many as seven books in one go. Then we throw knock-knock jokes at each other, some corny, others truly funny, allowing ourselves to act all silly until we finally fall asleep, giggling.

So there. I just want to get the house in order. So I can have real free time, to be a real mommy and playmate to Juliana. Not just at night when I read her many books.

I need to get the house in order so I can stop feeling so restless.

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